The Hope We Need When We Feel Like Giving Up

psalm 40-2

I hear my son singing his favorite song after I put him to bed for naptime.

Singing himself to sleep…isn’t that the sweetest?

But he’s not singing “Jesus Loves Me” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

He’s not even singing “The Ladybug Picnic” (our personal favorite) or “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”

No, at the top of his lungs, he is crooning out:

“Bob, the Quitter.  Can He pix it?  Bob, the Quitter.  Yes, he pix it!” (he’s still working on the ‘f’ sound for ‘fix.)

This is not how the song goes.

This summer, my daughters have been making up parodies of the theme songs to preschool TV shows. They’ve tackled all the big ones: Elmo, Little Einsteins, Blue’s Clues, Wonder Pets.

And now this: Bob, the Builder.

Unfortunately, my son has adopted their parody of good old construction site Bob and instead of singing “Bob, the Builder….” he now sings “Bob, the Quitter” every single time.

My daughters are now under strict orders not to sing any of their parodies within his hearing in case they ruin yet another song for him.

And, whenever my son breaks into this now-ruined tune, I try to sing it the right way, emphasizing “Builder” with great force so he’ll hear me and make the correction.

So far, this has failed.  Bob the Quitter it remains.

My boy has dug in his heels on this one, which of course makes this parody even funnier.

He refuses to quit singing a song about a “quitter” who apparently can indeed fix things despite his propensity for giving up!

It boggles the mind.

Still, while I admire my son’s tenacity and willingness to hang on tight, I’m sure at some point he’ll correct his little ditty and sing with just as much heart: “Bob, the Builder, Can he fix it?  Bob the Builder, yes he can!”

And I’ll rejoice because, not only will the lyrics finally be correct, he’ll get the whole point of the song in the first place:

Don’t quit.  Don’t give up.

Don’t get bogged down by the problem; keep your eyes fixed on the goal and the finish and the completed work.

After all, that’s what we all need at times, the reminder to just keep going.

When we’re broken and overwhelmed, weary and ready to give up, maybe we can’t tackle everything before us.

But this next thing, this next calling, this next task, that we can do with God’s help.

One more step. One more day.

One more prayer even when you haven’t seen results.

One more act of obedience to God even if it feels overlooked or unappreciated.

One more choice to be faithful despite the unfaithfulness of others or to act with integrity even when others fail.

God knows what it is we truly need in the moments when we want to quit, what we need to hang on one tiny step at a time.

When Paul was imprisoned in Jerusalem and the forces against him seemed overwhelming, look what God did for him:

The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome” (Acts 23:11 ESV). 

“Take courage.”

That’s what the Lord told Paul.

Why?  Because it wasn’t over yet.  There was more to come.  Paul didn’t need to worry because God promised there was more to this story.

God didn’t tell Paul everything, but he did show the next step was Rome.

And, this is what I pray when I feel like throwing up my hands to concede defeat,

“God, help me remember there is more to this story. Give me courage.  Help me hold on until you finish this work.”

Even more than that, I remember the Psalmist who said:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:1-3).

I ask God for the “new song” only He can give.

Then I set my heart on that future, for the day when the pit will be behind me and I’ll be standing on the steadiness of a rock.  My feet won’t be shaky.  The ground beneath me will be strong.

And I’ll sing a “new song…of praise to our God.”

For all of us who feel like laying down and giving up, may we ask God today for a new vision, a new song, and the hope we need to just keep going each new day.

 

Fire drills, tornado drills, lockdown drills, oh my!

psalm 31-22

My daughter announced that she hates ‘drills.’

All kinds of drills, she says.

They were only about two weeks into the school year at the time.

They had fire drills.

They had a tornado drill.

My oldest daughter chimes in about ‘lock-down drills,’ and how her teacher is so funny but the one thing she is super serious about is anyone who dares to giggle, laugh or even squeak out a hint of noise during a lockdown drill.

“She’ll send you to the principal,” my daughter lowers her voice for added drama.

These older girls of mine try to reassure the youngest sister that drills are essential and there to help and not really a big deal.

But the baby girl is testing out fear here.  I can see it on her face and I hear it in the way she keeps bringing these drills up.  When she gets home from school.  Over dinner.  In the minivan.  As she climbs into my lap for bedtime prayers.

“The drills…the drills….the drills…”

Clearly, they are on her mind.  And we older and wiser ones keep jumping in with confidence that everything is fine and not to be afraid, but she’s just not convinced.

So, the fear is kind of leaking out of her heart and into our conversations.

Oh, I don’t blame the drills, of course.   I let her tell me about them all over again and then I look right into her two blue eyes and I even brush away her wild bangs so she can’t miss this reassurance:

Those drills are there to keep you safe.  So that if anything ever happens, you’re not too scared to do the right thing.  We drill now so we don’t have to be afraid later.

She nods knowingly, but I’m her mom and I know we’ll probably have this conversation again in a month when the alarm goes off at school and all the kids file outside for yet another fire drill. So we pray about it, every time it comes up, I pray peace for her.

It’d be nice, it’d be great, it’d be heaven really if we didn’t need drills, if we didn’t have to practice for fire or intruders or tornadoes or a world of harm and hurt.

But we live here, on a broken earth with sin and natural disasters and trouble.

And how we react in the crisis makes a difference.

I know this because haven’t I been alarmed and sent into a dizzying whirlpool of fear at the slightest provocation?

A phone call.

An email.

A Facebook post, for goodness’ sake.

Maybe you, too?  The doctor’s report, the bill in the mail, the late night call, the hurtful remark, the broken car (again), the sobbing friend?

Trouble storms into our lives and how we react in the crisis matters.

We’re tempted to freak out and run around like a wild woman with her hands flailing hysterically in the air.

We’re in crisis mode.  Making phone calls.  Feeling hopeless.  Crying desperately.  Feeling helpless.  Rallying the troops and sending out an SOS signal and doing anything possible to keep from drowning.

I’ll be honest, sometimes it doesn’t even take a crisis, it just takes one tiny bump into my plans for the day for me to settle into a funk of frantic activity and aggravated grumpiness.

The Psalmist said it just right:

In my alarm I said,
    “I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
    when I called to you for help (Psalm 31:22 NIV).

In our alarm, when the bad news comes and we haven’t had time for faith to kick in, we snap to the judgment that God has abandoned us.

He can’t see us.

We’re cut off from Him, alone, dependent on our own strength to get us out of this mess.

Our natural reaction to an alarm is haste and hysteria, foolishness and fear.

It’s unnatural to choose peace under pressure.

Yet, the Holy Spirit offers us just such unnatural, supernatural peace.

When everything settled and the crisis passed, the Psalmist recognized the truth: “Yet you heard my cry….”

In the haste of the moment, he had rushed into fear.  But then he saw what was true, God had indeed heard His cry for help.

What about us?

Over time, after alarm and alarm and alarm have passed and the dust settles and we see Jesus right there with us, surely we’d know by now what to do in case of crisis:

Cry to God for help.

Trust Him to hear your call.

Rest in the assurance of His presence.

Choose peace.

Not flaky peace, vague peace, warm-and-fuzzy-feeling peace, or the peace of blindness to our circumstances.

The peace that is the confident assurance of Christ’s presence right where we are.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King